Bills to Expand and Modernize Human Trafficking Hotline Head to Governor

Senator Henry Stern and Assemblymember Miguel Santiago join efforts on key bills that would put hotline notices in hotels and motels and allow victims to text for help

September 6, 2017

 

(Sacramento) – Yesterday, Senate Bill 225, authored by Senator Henry Stern (D- Canoga Park) and Assembly Bill 260, authored by Assemblymember Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles), passed the California Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support. The dual measures would update current trafficking hotline notices to include a text messaging component (SB 225) and expand the current list of required businesses to include hotels and motels (AB 260).

“Human trafficking is not just a global scourge, it's a multibillion dollar criminal enterprise in our own backyards,” remarked Senator Henry Stern. “I am proud to have partnered on this legislative package to make our human trafficking hotlines more accessible to youth victims and more prominent at hotels and motels. We need young people and business leaders to step up and do their part to stop human trafficking in California.”

“AB 260 simply adds hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts to the list of the businesses already required to post the notice,” said Assemblymember Miguel Santiago. “There is overwhelming evidence that these are prime locations for human trafficking. These life-saving notices will provide victims of human trafficking with crucial information that can lead to rescue and follow-up services and will also increase awareness about trafficking among hotel staff and the public,” he continued. 

These bills come in the wake of a major human trafficking sweep in Los Angeles yielding 474 arrests and identifying at least 55 survivors as well as several arrests in Ventura County including one in which a 17 year-old female called the trafficking hotline to alert authorities while hiding from her captors.

Both bills are backed by the California National Organization of Women, the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking, the Ventura County Coalition Against Human Trafficking and the National Council of Jewish Women.

“The passage of SB 225 and AB 260 by the legislature signifies an important step in our quest to create more avenues for victims of human trafficking to easily seek help and marks progress in our overall goal to eradicate modern day slavery. As the original sponsor of SB 1193, which created the hotline posting requirement in California, CAST is excited that updates to this important bill are currently awaiting the Governor’s signature,” said Kay Buck, CEO of the Coalition to Abolish Slavery & Trafficking (CAST). “These improvements will mean that more victims in California, especially those who are forced into labor at hotels and motels, will have access to a number they can call or text for immediate help and assistance in escaping from their human trafficker.”

California law requires certain businesses and establishments to post a notice with information on human trafficking resources, including national and statewide hotlines. Each year, the National Human Trafficking Hotline yields thousands of cases (7,572 cases in 2016 alone) with usage going up consistently each year. Notices must be posted near the entrance of the establishment in clear view of the public and employees, in both English and Spanish or any other language widely spoken in the county.

Claire Lipschultz, who represents the National Council of Jewish Women, CA, and who worked on the original hotline posting law, explained that the "human trafficking hotlines have proven to be lifelines for victims of human trafficking. An AB 260 and SB 225 enhancement to the current hotline posting law continues California's leadership in the fight against modern day slavery."

Both measures will be considered by Governor Jerry Brown within the next 30 days for signature. 

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Henry Stern is Chair of the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments, and the first millennial elected to the California State Senate. He represents nearly 1 million residents of the 27th Senate District, which includes Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Hidden Hills, Malibu, Moorpark, Simi Valley, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, part of Santa Clarita and the following Los Angeles communities: Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Encino, Porter Ranch, Reseda, Tarzana, West Hills, Winnetka, and Woodland Hills. http://sd27.senate.ca.gov.

 

Assemblymember Miguel Santiago is the Majority Whip of the California State Assembly and sits on the Assembly’s Public Safety Committee. He represents the 53rd District composed of the cities of Los Angeles, Huntington Park, and Vernon.